How Should We Position The Hands For Arm Balances?

January 9, 2024

Transcript of: How should we position the hands for arm balances?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. If you’ve got a question you want me to answer, go to: yoganatomy.com/myquestion. I’ll answer it for you. Alright, this month’s question comes from Aditi and it’s about how to position the hands for arm balances.

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The Question:

Hi David,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. My question is regarding the correct way to position the hands in weight-bearing postures. I often hear teachers suggesting that the finger pads should be firmly placed on the ground to distribute the weight evenly. I’m able to do that in certain poses like downward dog or plank. But while transitioning from plank to chaturanga or during side plank, the index finger pads come off the ground. I have carrying angles of the elbows. Does that have anything to do with it or is it just due to lack of strength? I would also love to learn arm balances from you. If you already have a course on that, please share the details. [DK: I do not have a course on arm balances, so no details to share there.]

The Answer:

I think this is a great question. Let’s start with “all your finger pads need to be on the floor.” You know, most of the weight, when you do arm balances, is going to be through the palm of the hand. The fingers are more like feelers, sensors, or proprioceptors, in the sense that they feel how the weight is shifting through the palm. And, they can make little adjustments, a little bit of pressure like that. It’s not that they have to be stuck to the floor and not move. So, there’s that.

Connect to serratus anterior

You mention your carrying angle at the elbow. Right, the angle at which your arm falls out. This could play into this. But, my more likely guess is related to where your strength is coming from when doing these transitions, movements, arm balances, etc. So, what happens is, when you’re pressing firmly from your serratus, like from your armpit through your hand, that’s going to generally bring that elbow this way a little bit more. Because what happens is, when you see this side of your hand is coming up, it usually means the elbow has gone wide. So as the elbow goes out, the angle at the wrist changes. And, as a result, this side of your hand wants to creep up a little bit. That’s not uncommon.

So, when you do your chaturanga, notice how wide your elbows want to go. And you know, because you mentioned carrying angle, that may impact and dictate that your elbows go wider than average. That’s possible. So keep that in mind. I think—my guess is—this is coming back to the shoulder girdle. Work on this, so when you’re doing side planks, things like that you kind of rotate your shoulder joint externally a little bit. And, make sure to bring that scapula in and push from the armpit. That usually matters more than exactly how you position the hands in arm balances. See if that makes a difference. I have a feeling it will.

Alright, anybody else, if you’ve got a question, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll answer it for you.

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